This generously annotated updated edition of Coriolanus provides a thorough reconsideration of Shakespeare's remarkable, and probably his last, tragedy. A substantial introduction situates the play within its contemporary social and political contextsdearth, riots, the struggle over authority between James I and his first parliament, the travails of Essex and Raleghand pays particular attention to Shakespeare's shaping of his primary source in Plutarch's Lives. It presents a fresh account of how the protagonist's personal tragedy evolves within Shakespeare's most searching exploration of the political life of a community. The edition is alert throughout to the play's theatrical potential, while the stage history also attends to the politics of performance from the 1680s onwards, including European productions following the Second World War. A new introductory section by Bridget Escolme covers recent productions of Coriolanus, and criticism of the last ten years, with particular focus on gender and the play's politics.
The ultimate Shakespeare tool for high school classrooms. This last of Shakespeare's tragedies derives from the writings of Plutarch. The story goes that General Coriolanus was ejected from Rome by an angry mob and sought revenge by aligning himself with Rome's enemies. Ultimately, his defection leads to his death. However, what sets one edition of a Shakespeare play apart from any other edition? The difference, in this case, is in the instructional details. This volume begins with a Cliff Notes-like summary (although definitely a literary cut above); a detailed description of critical characters in the play; a scene-by-scene breakdown of how the play evolves; and a longer commentary on each scene. The play is formatted in columns so that the obscure Shakespearean phrases are explained on the same visual line. The book concludes with the Plutarch source text, and offers criticisms, questions, and historical perspective for classroom discussion. In all, a very comprehensive study aid and if this play is not your cup of Earl Grey, the series includes more accessible works from the Bard. 1999, Oxford University Press, Ages 14 to Adult, $7.95. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross